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Looking Forward - Defensive Line

Mike Pelton, Auburn's first year defensive line coach. via the official site.

When Tracy Rocker left, he left a slightly inexperienced, and very young group of Tigers. The same ones he recruited, and coached for the last two years. It was going to take someone of tremendous quality to come in and take Rockers place.That leaves us with some questions. Are Auburn fans going to see the same quality level of play they have grown accustomed to? In short, can Mike Pelton get the job done at Auburn?

Let's take a look at the young men that Coach Pelton inherited.

There are Eleven men listed on the roster at various positions along the defensive front. Some of them have extensive playing time, as rotation players. The only returning player with a start in a game is #94 Nosa Equae. His stats look like this -
2010 14/11 22 14 8 7.5-28 3.5-22

#95 Dee Ford has played in 26 games with one start and recorded 22 tackles and is credited with 4.5 tackles for a loss.
#55 Corey Lemonier started one game and played in all of them last season with 17 total tackles including five for a loss.
# 97Derrick Lykes has seen playing time. As a redshirt Junior Lykes has totaled 12 tackles in 2 years.
#92 Ken Carter played in 8 games last season with 6 tackles to his credit.
#74 Jamar Travis played in all 14 games last season recording two tackles from the DL position, but played quite a bit on special teams.
# 54Jeff Whitaker played in all 14 games recording 7 tackles.
#13 Craig Sanders played in 13 games last season with quite an effort on special teams recording eight tackles, including one for a loss from the defensive end position.

The other members of the eleven returning players are #52 Justin Delaine, and #91 Joel Bonomolo. Add in freshman #99 Brian Walsh.

Add to this list a very impressive defensive line class that includes the likes of Angelo Blackson, Jabrian Niles, Keymiya Harrell, Devaunte Sigler, and highly touted Gabe Wright. Coach Pelton will have an opportunity to field an above average quality line for a few more years to come.

Auburn has a long tradition of quality defensive line play, I see no reason for this not to continue. Even with the loss of Nick Fairley, Zac Clayton, Antoine Carter, Mike Goggans, and Mike Blanc the cupboard is not bare. The coaching position change was a good one in this writers opinion. Not that it was good to lose Coach Rocker, just that, the Pelton hire seems to fit the program well. Coach Chizik has worked with Mike before at Iowa State, and seen something he liked. Pelton certainly has the pedigree, although a short amount of time has been spent as DL coach, he has sent a couple of really good ones on to the NFL. That list is about to grow exponentially in the next four years.
Gene Chizik hit a grand slam on this, his first replacement hire.
Continue reading after the jump...

Excuse me while I take the liberty to tell a story about a young man who has been practicing football as a defensive lineman for two years, here in Enterprise, Alabama. This young man is a straight A student, and has not missed one single practice, or summer workout in two years of Junior varsity football. Also, he has played in two games last year, on the varsity level. He will be attending the 11th grade next fall.

Obviously, you can tell this young man is not a starter, and will rarely see the football field, although he is the consumate team mate, and devoted to his efforts. He wants to be a coach one day. He absolutely loves football. It is only behind his love for his family, and his devotion to his church. To say it's a part of his life doesn't do this justice.

A couple of weeks ago, this young man had his heart broken. It seems the High School coach wants him to quit playing football, and become the team manager. No reason was given, and no explanation was offered in the letter the coach gave him. Even after telling all the parents at the football banquet, that everyone of the returning kids will play on the team. Understandably the parents of this child were in shock. How could the coach say one thing, and do another?

The Mother of this fine young man contacted the coach, via email, and asked him, if he knew how bad he had hurt her son. She told the coach that she realized her son was never going to be a starter, and she never demanded that he play, just let him be a part of the team, that he has given his heart and efforts to.

The coach emailed her back, and said he did not ever want to hear from her again.

The Mother contacted the school Principle, and the Superintendant of Education for Coffee county, and pleaded her story for her son to be on the football team, to no avail.

Through the shining grace of God, some of the players had found out about the situation, and demanded that the young man, be put back on the team, or they would not play either.

A team effort was needed last season for Auburn to win the Championships they won. A team effort was needed to put this young man back where he belonged, on the team. Too bad, the coach was too ignorant to see what he was supposed to be coaching, teamwork!

If I lived in a town where the head football coach acted like this, I would try everything I could to get his butt fired! Since I do live here, I am telling you this story, and doing my part. This type of coach needs to be unemployed!